Marketing for a Cause: One Pair of Shoes at a Time

Whether or not you know what cause marketing is, there is a good chance that you have participated in it in one way or another.  Since cause marketing is the collaboration of a company with a specific organization or cause, which is something that many brands participate in, we have decided to focus on one particular well known company that uses this tactic. The specific brand that many people, maybe even you, have supported through cause marketing is TOMS.  TOMS is a shoe company that provides a pair of shoes to a child in need around the world every time that a pair is purchased.


The idea of TOMS shoes came about when founder, Blake Mycoskie, visited Argentina and discovered children within the village were walking around barefoot. Determined to help, Mycoskie created the campaign “One for One,” that would “match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.” The company has had outstanding success, becoming nationally appraised and known for their good deeds. According to their website, TOMS has given 10 million pairs of shoes spanning over 60 countries. A motivating factor behind the TOMS brand is their demonstration of corporate responsibility through their desire to help others in need.

The Theory of Reasoned Action makes a good connection with TOMS and cause marketing because it states that attitude drives intention which overall drives the desired behavior. The Theory of Reasoned Action also states that, “If the outcome seems beneficial to the individual, he or she may then intend to or actually participate in a particular behavior.” TOMS’ mission drives consumers to have a positive attitude towards the brand and an inclination to purchase their products because the outcome is helping children in need.  Peer groups, friends, family, role models, and celebrities also play an active role in influencing consumers to participate in a desired behavior. Consumers who have a positive attitude about a celebrity that advocates TOMS may in turn have a positive attitude about TOMS, which will increase their intention and actual behavior of purchasing their products.
What are some other instances where you have seen companies and brands use cause marketing to sell their products?  Do you think people’s motivation to purchase TOMS shoes is more for the fashion statement and to look like a good person or to genuinely donate?

-Aaron Love, Kara Zimmerman, Rachel Clay, Rebecca Hobbs